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  Chobani correspondence contradicts DFO
Letter to the Editor

The Editor:

I have no issue with the article last month detailing the speech given by DFO lawyer Graham Lloyd at the recent Kemptville Dairy day. It was accurate as to the speech that was given, which is the job of a journalist.

However, I wish to take issue with several points made by Lloyd. One of which was vilifying the accuracy of a Financial Post article I had written, concerning the failure of Chobani Yogurt to build a huge plant in Kingston, Ontario.

A November 27th meeting I had cited "had nothing to do with Chobani," Lloyd said in his speech.

It had everything to do with Chobani.

The meeting itself was ordered by Geri Kamenz from the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, as part of an agreement, after the Ontario Dairy Council (ODC) had dropped their tribunal appeal against the Ontario government and DFO, fighting the Chobani plant being built.

The actual meeting centered on DFO guaranteeing all the processors under the ODC that they would be supplied all the milk they needed. While Lloyd can honestly feel great things were accomplished and that fears were calmed, one of the nation's largest processors didn't feel so.

And told me so in an extensive interview after, in fact saying, "it made everybody feel good but it accomplished nothing." And in March closed two of their Canadian plants.

Lloyd took no issue with that perception when it appeared later in print.

The perception and reality of a policy and meeting with those with over $1-billion invested in the industry, versus a wage earning employee hired to "communicate,' is dramatically different.

These plants closing help you the farmers -- how?

Chobani not building helps farmers -- how?

While Lloyd felt "like a kid in a candy store," when a quote attributed to Chobani communications person Nicki Briggs cited that there was no issue with price and supply, one feels happy for him, but that also leaves out some facts. Plus we know the thinking process of kids with too much candy and not enough thought.

First of all, no agriculture or urban journalist, national or international, has stated quotes from anyone that price was an issue for Chobani.

However, Kingston politicians and municipal employees have stated on the record in their city paper, on local radio and TV that they have been told by Chobani officials that the supply management system, including its difficulty in guaranteeing supply, was an issue.

In fact past emails from Nick Briggs and Lauren Grant, on behalf of Chobani to me, state that accessing an adequate supply of milk was indeed a challenge and problem that they had to overcome. I have those emails. Does Lloyd have his that he's citing stating the opposite, from the same person?

I don't know. But I do know that I can produce mine to whoever wants it. Be that a farmer or a court of law.

However the main question farmers need answered, if what Lloyd says is true, is how do those managing a billion dollar industry have no clue why the fastest growing dairy processor in the world's history can't build, as he wanted to, on Canadian soil?

Shouldn't Lloyd, your employee, get in his car, drive to New York and ask why?

Rather than being trotted around the province to make speeches against Ian Cumming?

Ian Cumming

Green Valley



Eastern Ontario AgriNews is published on the third Monday of each month. The printed version is distributed free by postal mail to farms in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

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